I'm actually going to start posting the 77 pages of story I wrote based off the game. It goes straight through from Haunting 101 to Class of Spook 'Em High while including some of the dropped items (Thorne and Trainspooking.) as well as a few characters of my own.
I am completely aware that it may completely suck but considering the lack of fanfiction on this game I feel suck is better then nothing ;D
Zulban risked a glance behind him as he fled. All it did was allow him to see the spell a moment before it hit, trapping him. Though he knew it was pointless he struggled against the magical bonds as his pursuer reached him. As she approached he could see the amulet hanging around her neck as she extended a hand toward him. Zulban writhed in pain as tendrils of light hit him.
A flash of green light burst from the center of the tendrils as the spell completed its work. The spot where Zulban had been was empty…
Zulban was still writhing when he appeared in the middle of the great courtyard. After shaking off the effects of the banishment he collapsed onto one of the benches sitting nearby.
The headquarters of the Haunter Committee rose above him while Haunters of all types floated, crawled and walked between the many buildings that surrounded the courtyard. Stopping one of the Messengers Zulban sent a message to the Committee outlining his findings.
Alrik zipped quickly along the halls within the Committee building as he carried Zulban’s message. Pausing outside Balam’s office he knocked before heading through the door.
The head of the Haunter Committee turned from the window. “What is it Alrik?” he asked as he crossed to his desk and sat down. “A message from Zulban, he said it was urgent.” Alrik replied as he handed the message over.
As he read Zulban’s words Balam looked up at Alrik, his face betraying his concern. “Assemble the Committee. We have a situation that must be rectified immediately.” Balam ordered. With a nod Alrik took off through the door to carry out his orders.
As Balam entered the Committee’s meeting hall he was pleased to see that the rest of the members were already in their seats. As Balam took his seat at the head of the table the other members quieted.
“Thank you for coming everyone. We have a serious problem that must be addressed. My knowledge of the events is brief so Zulban of the Bureau of Astral Affairs will give us the details.” As he finished Balam signaled Alrik who admitted Zulban to the room.
“As you know I was sent to the Mortal Realm to scout the town of Gravenville and see if it would warrant haunting. It is more then ready but many of the inhabitants have little belief or fear of the supernatural. Due to being banished by a Witch I was unable to acquire more information.” As the Committee thought over what he said Zulban stepped back to show he had nothing more to say.
“I do not see what there is to discuss.” Drycha said. “If the town is ready for haunting then all that needs doing is to assign a Ghost Master.” “Who would you suggest?” Balam interrupted. “All of our Ghost Masters are already assigned to other towns and cities.”
“I may have an idea.” Everyone turned to look at the ghost who had spoken. Rakarth was well-respected in the Spirit World since he taught the art of haunting to potential Masters. “One of my students has shown great promise since entering my classes. Though she has yet to start field training she has proven herself an exceptional strategist. I believe she could be right for this assignment.”
“I’m not fond of the idea but if we wait we may lose our chance.” Balam said as the rest of the Committee nodded agreement. “We’ll try it. If she runs into trouble then we’ll have to rethink this situation.”
With the decision made Balam turned his attention back to Rakarth. “Tell your student…” pausing he looked to Rakarth for a name. “She goes by Monzel.” Rakarth answered. “Tell Monzel the news then send her here to meet her team.” Rising from his seat Rakarth left as Balam and the other members continued to talk.
Monzel glanced up from her book as Rakarth entered the library. “Balam would like you to report to the Committee Chambers at once.” He said as he stopped next to her. “The Committee has decided to make you a Ghost Master in order to address a problem that has arisen.” Monzel was already heading out the door as Rakarth hurried to catch up.
As Rakarth and Monzel arrived Balam waved them over to where the Committee was gathered. “Welcome Monzel, your team has been assembled. Due to the number of Masters currently in the field we could only find a couple of experienced Haunters. The rest are new arrivals. Follow us and we’ll get everyone introduced.” Balam and Drycha led them into a side room where several ghosts were waiting.
“First off is Clatterclaws.” Balam said as the assembled ghosts lined up. “Look up.” He added as he noticed Monzel’s confusion at the empty space before her. Lifting her gaze she was awed by the size of the spider that hung from the ceiling. “He is a Horde and should be quite effective with a little training.” Balam said, sidestepping several small spiders that fell from the web.
Moving on they stopped before a ghost with a mischievous look in his eye. “Boo is a Spook and quite fond of jokes but he has a useful batch of powers.” Balam said as Boo levitated a book off the table and over to Monzel. “So that’s where your handbook went. I should have known.” Balam added as Monzel tucked it under her arm.
“This is Whirlweird.” Balam continued as Monzel looked at the swirling balls of green light. “Poltergeists might be a bit limited since they can only be bound to children but the variety of powers they possess makes up for that.”
“I think I should introduce these next two if you don’t mind Balam.” Drycha said as they moved to stand before a small winged spirit and what appeared to be a mass of rock. As Balam nodded his agreement Drycha proceeded with her introductions.
“Aether and Stonewall are your Elementals. Air and Earth will have to do for now. Aether’s control over the winds and her piercing cries should prove useful while Stonewall’s tremors will remove any roadblocks you come across.” She said as the two haunters nodded to her respectfully.
“What is that?” Monzel asked as she stared at the big-eyed creature before her. “Cogjammer, your Gremlin. A monkey though we don’t know why he has so little fur.” Balam said. “He’ll have a use most anywhere since the mortals love their electronics and he loves to mess with them.”
“Shivers is one of the experienced haunters we found for you. He’s been with us for a long time and is constantly in the running for Most Valuable Phantom. I think just his appearance would scare the mortals.” “I think your right.” Monzel agreed as she looked on the straight-jacketed ghost writhing before her.
“And finally we have Ghastly, A Spectre.” Monzel’s gaze traveled over the rather large form before her. The metal hooks he had in place of his hands and the scar running down his face certainly presented a fearsome picture. “You’re lucky to have him.” Balam said. “He’s a well-known haunter and a veteran of countless campaigns.”
“Now that you’ve met your team we need to get the details of your mission sorted out. Your handbook will hold all the details on your team and their powers.” Balam said as he and Drycha led Monzel and her newly appointed team back into the main chamber.
As she watched the map spread before her Monzel looked up at Balam. “This will help you find a base of operations in Gravenville.” Balam answered before she could ask her question.
Unsure of what she was looking for Monzel was surprised as a building rose out of the map and began to pulse with green light. Opening her handbook Monzel read and discovered that the building was the old main building of Gravenville University which had been abandoned since the University had moved to the edge of town. Replacing the book in the pouch at her side Monzel touched the pulsing building and was drawn through.
As she passed through the plasm Monzel became aware of rain falling around her as she entered the Mortal Realm. Settling she gazed up at the sight before her. There was no doubt she had arrived as the name Gravenville arced over the gates while a pair of gargoyles looked on.
Passing through the gates she could see several vehicles parked outside the building and seeing a light shining in one of the upper windows she headed for it. As she floated near the ceiling Monzel looked down on the young mortals gathered around the table. They stared intently at a board with a circle of letters on it.
Upon seeing the board Monzel remembered one of her earliest lessons with Rakarth: names have power. Gliding down to the table she used the letters to write her name below the circle.
The worry could be plainly seen on the mortal’s faces as green light began to spiral out from the board. As the light grew stronger and the candles on the table were caught in the spiral the mortals scattered.
Monzel watched as three of them entered one of the side rooms. As the beam of their flashlight caught a large shadow they gasped in fear. Turning in the direction the shadow came from they were puzzled to see a monkey rip a phone from the cord and start chewing on it.
As Cogjammer became aware of the observers he shrieked and leapt off the desk. As he crossed the room the mortal turned in time to see him vanish through a TV screen. Confusion reigned for a few seconds before the TV chased them from the room.
Glancing out a window Monzel saw Boo flying after them as they crossed the grass. She quickly passed through the floor to check on the others.
In the main hall she found two more working their way across the hall toward the stairs leading back up. They stepped backwards in fear as a portal opened before them, covering the walls in green light. As they watched as a bald head pushed through and was quickly followed by a pair of hooks that grabbed the sides of the portal. As Ghastly pulled himself through the portal closed behind him.
Looking around one of the mortals caught sight of a fire axe on the wall and grabbed it. Seeing this Ghastly grinned and raised his hooks to the scar on his head. As he began to split to the waist the mortal’s jaws dropped. A moment later he began to come together again as the power ended and he gave the mortals another big grin as they dropped the axe and ran for the door.
As her flashlight beam landed on a spider crawling around in the sink the two remaining mortals screamed briefly before regaining their calm. As she turned to look at her friend she noticed his eyes widening in fear as he looked at her arm. Turning to look she caught sight of another spider perched on her sleeve. As several dozen more fell over them they glanced up and saw the giant spider perched on the ceiling while spiders continued to fall. With a scream they fled to the door and joined the group that was running from Shivers and Boo.
As the mortals fled through the gates Monzel entered the old cafeteria to find her team relaxing. Whirlweird was shooting pool while Shivers looked on. Cogjammer jumped out of an arcade game as it sparked. Glancing around his gaze settled on the soda machine before he jumped up on it and knocked a can out.
Ghastly was picking through a lunchbox as Clatterclaws reached down and stole a doughnut from it. Looking up Ghastly shifted the box further from the Horde. As a spider fell to the table he stabbed it with a hook as Boo flew by with a glass in hand.
Smiling at the success of the operation Monzel headed back up to the room where the mortals had been doing their séance. The board still glowed with green light as she touched it and passed back through to where Balam, Drycha and Rakarth waited. “The mission was a success.” She announced as she appeared in the room. “The Ghoul Room will serve as my base of operations.” She continued.
“That was impressive work Monzel.” Drycha said. “Though Rakarth still feels that you need field training before you take on anything to tough. Return to your team and we’ll contact you when we find a suitable sight for such a test.”
With a nod to the Committee Monzel vanished back to the Ghoul Room.
Monzel marveled at the amount of information that her handbook contained. All eight members of her team were listed along with their powers and level of training. After finding several empty spaces in each Haunter’s power listings she questioned Rakarth who explained that the spaces were for any powers that they might learn.
Her team had settled into the Ghoul Room quite nicely. The building was spacious and allowed the ghosts to spread out to areas where they were comfortable while they waited on the Committee.
As Monzel entered the main hall of the Ghoul Room her handbook flew out of her bag and landed on a table. Turning to glare at Boo she noticed that he looked as surprised as she was.
“It is time.” Turning toward the voice she saw Rakarth coming through a portal. As her teacher waved his hand over her book the map of Gravenville spread over the table and a small building rose from it near the edge of town.
“You are ready for your field training young Ghost Master.” Rakarth said as he motioned Monzel and her team forward. “We are taking you to the Kappa Lambda sorority house in Gravenville University. Only a small number of sorority girls are in residence at the moment but scaring them all away should be a sufficient test of your abilities.”
As Rakarth touched the building Monzel turned to look at her team and could tell that they were ready to go. Bracing herself to be pulled through the portal she reached out and touched the roof…but nothing happened. Rakarth’s voice spoke up from the field. “You can not rely on your numbers Monzel, you must choose who to bring with you. Four will suffice for now.”
“Boo, Shivers, Cogjammer…and Clatterclaws. You’re with me.” Monzel said as she activated the portal and was pulled through…
As they appeared above the sorority house Monzel’s handbook passed through and settled in her hands. Motioning to her team to remain where they were and nodding to Rakarth she floated down toward the house to do some recon.
Passing through the door Monzel emerged into the main living space of the house. Several of the sorority girls were gathered here chatting. Satisfied that she had found a good spot to begin the haunting Monzel was turning to go when the sound of someone sneezing caught her attention. Curious she headed toward the sound.
She was surprised when she came upon a ghost. As she listened to the sneezing Monzel noticed the glowing green chain that ran from the ghost to a nearby vacuum. In that moment she understood that the haunter before her was trapped in the Mortal Realm.
By this time the ghost had noticed her and despite the sneezing, managed to speak. “Dratted dust, I used to command the storms Dearie, but since I got myself sucked into this electric broomstick all I can manage is this infernal sneezing. It’d be a different matter if I got free mind you. I’d whip up a storm to wake the dead!”
Quickly returning to her team Monzel made her plans and led her team inside. Placing Boo and Clatterclaws in the main room Monzel opened her book to the section on her team’s powers and looked over the listing for her two haunters. “Boo, let’s get some chains rattling to start the show.” She said as she tapped the appropriate line in her book. “Clatterclaws, I think a swarm would get these girls moving.”
Karen Fuller stopped mid-sentence as the sound of chains rattling echoed through the room. As she and the others girls stood to search for the source of the noise the TV and stereo started jumping around and spiders began raining from the ceiling. With a scream Karen headed for the stairs. She stopped in her tracks as a form appeared and came at her. Reversing direction toward the door she shoved it open and fled as her sisters scattered around the house.
Monzel nodded to Shivers who floated beside her. “Your turn Shivers!” she said as the Phantom dropped down toward a rug. A glowing tendril appeared and connected the ghost to his fetter.
Remembering her promise Monzel motioned to Cogjammer who was just chasing another girl out the door with a pair of speakers. Breaking off the chase the Gremlin bounded over and Monzel led him over to the alcove where the sneezing ghost floated. Following her orders Cogjammer leapt up onto a shelf above the ghost and the tendril appeared, binding him to a small radio.
Opening her book to Cogjammer’s page she touched the entry for his best power: Wild and Crazy. As more plasm was channeled into him Cogjammer let out a shriek and the radio began doing flips while the vacuum shook. A moment later a cloud of dust rose from the vacuum and the glowing chain snapped and vanished.
As the cloud settled a cackle erupted from the ghost’s lips as she approached. “OK Dearie, I’m on your team now. Let’s blow this joint!” With that she raised her arms and a massive clap of thunder erupted from the sky accompanied by a dense fog.
As she looked over the house Monzel could see that only one of the girls remained though she was obviously on the brink of sheer terror as well. She made a mistake in cutting through the main room just as Shivers sent much of the room’s contents flying in circles around him. As the final girl fled Monzel turned to congratulate her team.
Rakarth approached as a swirling golden light appeared and was absorbed by Monzel’s book. “That is Gold Plasm.” He said with a smile. “The Committee uses it for filling in those blank spaces in the power listings with more options.”
Returning the smile Monzel led her team back through the portal that had reappeared and into the Ghoul Room where those who had been left behind were waiting. As Boo sped off to tell his own exaggerated version of the story Monzel’s book flashed and she opened it to see a new page with information on her newest recruit…and a name: Weatherwitch.
Monzel was reading through Weatherwitch’s page when the book glowed and the map appeared. The sorority house was still there but now it had bats circling it. Looking elsewhere she saw two new buildings rising from the map. The one that was furthest from Gravenville was pulsing with light.
Quickly flipping to the right section Monzel learned that the building was a family house in the suburb of Calamityville which was just outside Gravenville. Intrigued she returned to the map and was startled when Balam’s voice began speaking out of thin air as she tapped the building.
“A sweet little old lady used to dwell within these walls but her mind was fading and her sanity fleeting. She loved receiving visitors and hated to see them go so she administered poison in their tea and made certain that they would stay awhile…stay forever! The house itself has become…unsettled by these events and though it is not truly sentient we still have a duty to protect the interests of the unseen world. Let the events that have until now been hidden become known to the mortals. Reveal the corpses to them and your goals shall be fulfilled but beware. For one cadaver may not suffice to convince the skeptical police that something sinister is afoot.”
As the voice faded Monzel thought about what she was getting into. It sounded like she was going to need the mortals to achieve victory here which meant a new plan would be needed…
As Monzel appeared outside the house she turned to her team. She had chosen Boo, Clatterclaws, Weatherwitch, Ghastly and Aether to accompany her. Seeing a ghost hanging around the chimneys Monzel flew up to meet him. As she approached the ghost gestured toward a skeleton stuck in one of the chimneys. “So, I’m up on this roof, fixing the shoddy co-ax antenna thinking a coat hanger would do better when I start feeling queasy. I’m thinking maybe the little old lady used non-dairy creamer in the tea when my gut explodes. I made a grab for the chimney but I guess I lunged to far cause now I’m stuck in it. Give me a hand would you?”
Seeing as the poor ghost was chained to his corpse Monzel didn’t think she would have any trouble helping him. Floating down into the house she discovered a second corpse and as expected the ghost of its owner. “Hello Madame.” The ghost said as it faced her. “Can I interest you in our range of facial care products? Our hydrating night silk works in conjunction with our non-foaming facial wash and our botanical moisture splash. May I spritz you with our fragrance? If we could arrange to demonstrate our products on one of the ladies of the house, I’m sure we could reach some amicable agreement regarding the purchase of our fine line of perfumery and cosmetic enhancements.”
Turning away Monzel noticed the boards nailed over the door. It would prove tough to get any mortals in here. Proceeding down through the house she came across several members of the family but no other bodies. Returning to her team Monzel set about giving her orders.
Ghastly and Boo were stationed in the living room while Clatterclaws set up his web in the kitchen as Aether and Weatherwitch summoned up wind and fog to enshroud the house.
As Monzel gave the order to begin a terrible noise interrupted. Her eyes widened as she realized what was happening. She had set off the Plasm Alarm! Shouted orders to Ghastly and Boo to unbind were lost as the wind rose. She moved toward them but it was too late. Amid a great gust of wind a portal opened and Monzel felt herself being pulled toward it along with her team. As she was pulled across the room Monzel noticed several links of glowing green chain poking through the floor. Before she could process that she was yanked off her feet and into the portal which quickly closed as the wind faded to normal.
Monzel only spent a few moments in the darkness before she was deposited in a heap with her team on the floor of the Ghoul Room. After spending several minutes working out whose limbs were whose Monzel crossed to a table while her team drifted off to rest.
Having spent a great deal of time going over the powers her team possessed and what she had learned before Monzel felt that she was ready to have another go at revealing the corpses.
“Boo, Stonewall, Clatterclaws. You’re with me this time.” She said as the portal opened and they stepped through.
Immediately upon arriving she went back to speak with the ghosts she had discovered before. With a few changes her handbook could now record information on ghosts before she freed them which she was sure would make the haunting much easier.
Moving to the basement she passed through a wall and found herself in a dust filled alcove with an old boiler, a skeleton and the ghost whose chains she had seen last time.
Flipping up the visor of his helmet he noticed Monzel standing there. “She seemed like such a sweet old dear, making me tea and all when I came to fix the boiler. Next thing I know I’m a dead man and she’s bricked me up. I reckon I could escape into a mortal’s body if someone would just get close enough.” He said as he adjusted the torch in his hand.
“Stonewall.” Monzel said as the Elemental came over. “I need a hole in that wall.” Glancing slowly around Stonewall found a spot where the floor had broken to reveal the dirt below and was soon bound to it. The room began shaking slightly as Stonewall’s tremor worked its power. The result was slightly underwhelming with a single brick falling from the wall. Unbinding himself Stonewall returned to Monzel’s side she headed up several floors to the boarded up room. Checking her book she found the ghost’s name: Maxine Factor. Giving her an order to use only one power Monzel told her to intrigue the mortals in the hopes that someone would open up the room…
Marcia Hutz looked up as dust showered down from the ceiling. Glancing around and seeing nothing strange she went back to her magazine, not noticing as her brother ran by with several spiders in hot pursuit. Nor did she notice the bones that tumbled out of her fireplace.
“Yeah, feels good to stretch the old ectoplasm and now I’m going to do more then just shock these jokers.” Static said as his chains broke. Still holding the antenna he looked a bit odd but according to the book he had the power to manifest himself as well as electrical powers.
Freeing Static had simply required another tremor from Stonewall to knock his bones loose. “Monzel!” As she heard Boo’s call Monzel passed through to see that the mortals had not only opened up Maxine’s room but one of the women had found the old box of cosmetics.
“Perhaps that blusher would better suit Madame if her facial skin tone were paler? Shall we find out?” Maxine said as she was set free.
“The mortals have discovered a corpse. Now it must be shown to the Police.” Balam’s voice broke in.
Monzel smiled, two ghosts were free and a corpse was found. She still had work to do though.
Heading downstairs she passed Bobby Hutz who was still being attended by Clatterclaws. As he fled the house Monzel heard Balam’s voice again. “Without mortals you will never be able to expose the corpses!”
Turning to Boo she saw the Spook sending another mortal on a Fool’s Errand. He’d been at it for a while and so far no one had gone downstairs. Following the fool Monzel saw he was headed for the kitchen. As she started to turn away he vanished. Curious she followed and discovered a staircase she had missed before. Better yet it led to the basement.
Heading down quickly she was just in time to see the Fool’s Errand wear off and the mortal notice the hole in the wall. Stepping forward and knocking a few more bricks out he saw the skeleton a moment before the repairman’s ghost appeared and grabbed him. Pulling him partway into the room the ghost waited until his chains had snapped before releasing the mortal. “Can’t hang onto this joker anymore. Time for a tea break.”
“The Police will report this body but it will take the discovery of a second corpse to initiate a full investigation.” Balam broke in again. Monzel hadn’t even known the Police had arrived and as she saw two uniformed officers descending the stairs she realized just how close she had cut this.
As the golden light appeared and the Gold Plasm was absorbed Monzel felt a wave of fresh confidence. Making sure Arclight, Maxine and Static were with her she opened the portal to return to the Ghoul Room.
Several days had passed since Calamityville and Monzel had been kept busy with using the Gold Plasm the Committee had awarded her to pay for the training of new powers for several members of her team. It pleased her greatly to see the team growing already.
Now she felt that they could tackle the next assignment pulsing on the map. With a tap Monzel heard Drycha’s voice in her head.
“The smug and irritating youths of the Alpha Tau Fraternity mock the supernatural and do not respect the dead! One desires that they be made to experience the full power of the spirit world and now an opportunity has arisen. As the young mortals gather for a party three socially maladjusted individuals are attempting a séance in the basement. The members of the fraternity believe they are tuning up their generator, not calling upon the spirit world. They are opening the door, you must not disappoint them. Everyone must be driven away in terror! Then they will know the true power of the supernatural!”
As the voice faded Monzel’s book added new pages for the trapped spirits she would meet: Wendal, Lucky and Terroreyes. Rising from her chair Monzel flew off to gather her team.
Floating above the frat house as the portal closed Monzel’s gaze passed over her chosen team. Boo and Clatterclaws were present for pure scaring ability while Ghastly was along to provide his particular brand of terror. Aether and Static rounded out the team.
As Monzel floated down to scout the building she pinpointed two of the trapped ghosts but the third eluded her. Pausing beside a pinball machine she woke the ghost cat that was lounging atop it.
“Oh Hello, I Lucky and this Lucky’s beeping table. Table usually warm and safe but sometimes table zaps Lucky, which Lucky no like. Table only zap when two-legged things play well though…and two-legged things not play so well no more. So Lucky stay here and keep warm.”
Adjusting her strategy to account for the new information Monzel proceeded to the other ghost who she guessed was the Terroreyes, an Apparition. “You would think being used for illegal research would be enough indignity, without kids stealing all that’s left of me. This jars lid isn’t as snug as those I’m accustomed to…If you break me out I’ll help you create quite a spectacle.”
Promising him freedom she brought in her team, sending Boo downstairs to take care of the séance. When the Spook returned he found the place in chaos. Members of the fraternity were running in all directions from the legions of spiders that poured down from Clatterclaws web. He jumped into the fun as a blast of sound erupted from outside announcing Aether’s arrival.
Monzel had to laugh as she watched the scene unfold before her. These frat boys may have mocked the spirit world but they still scared easily. She turned to Terroreyes who had been freed from his glass prison by Aether’s song and directed him to his position, bound to a moose head.
The mortals were knocked to the ground as a thick sheet of ice spread out from the head to cover the floor. The worry Monzel felt at having not located the third ghost yet was replaced as sparks suddenly flew from the pinball machine, greatly upsetting Lucky. “Beeping table not warm and safe at all, perhaps Lucky will play with you until next nap time.”
As a mortal ran into the night her book flashed. Curious she opened it to find Wendal’s page complete. She closed the book as she saw the new Spook heading toward her with a huge grin on his face. “Did you see the look on that jock dinosaur’s face? Priceless man, definitely worth dying for.”
Not having a clue how he had gained freedom Monzel directed Wendal to join Boo who was chasing a frat boy into the kitchen.
Seeing only a couple boys left in the house she gave orders to herd them into the main room. As they entered the room they slipped on the ice and so were unable to run quickly when Ghastly appeared before them and with a gesture of his claws sent a wave of pure terror washing over them. The mortals tripped over each other in their haste to flee the building.
As she watched her team celebrate and welcome the new recruits Monzel heard Balam’s voice in her head requesting her presence in the Committee Chambers…
The worry on Monzel’s face was easy to see as she entered the Chambers. She paused as she saw Balam, Drycha and Rakarth had been joined by the rest of the Haunter Committee: The dragon ghost Morjik caught her eye and nodded as she approached the table.
“Thank you for coming Monzel.” Balam said as the table quieted. “As you know we assigned you to Gravenville despite your lack of field training because we needed to move swiftly. Ghost Master Soulscreech has recently returned though and has agreed to replace you in Gravenville.”
“We reassigned her.” Balam continued as he saw the disappointment on her face. “We’ve given you three missions and despite the small mistake in Calamityville you’ve shown an impressive amount of leadership potential. Plus you seem to have a knack for releasing those trapped in the mortal realm and turning them into fine Haunters.”
“The Committee agrees with me and so we are officially naming you Ghost Master Monzel. And to start your official work we have an important assignment for you.” The map of Gravenville quickly unfolded over the table and Monzel watched as a cabin rose from the middle of the forest outside Gravenville.
“A rash professor of the occult recently took a powerful tome to the woods with the goal of summoning an ancient spirit known as the Darkling. Fleeing his cabin after disastrous initial experiments, he renewed his research at the university. Three of his students, rapt with dreams of power have stolen his notes and journeyed to the cabin intending to locate the book for their own nefarious purposes. Aid them in performing the summoning so we may recruit the Darkling for ourselves.”
After questioning the Committee about her mission Monzel returned to the Ghoul Room to figure out a plan.
With Aether, Clatterclaws, Boo, Arclight and Stonewall behind her Monzel looked over the cabin and its surroundings as the trio of mortals came into view. The small building made it quite easy for her to locate the first trapped spirit.
The winged haunter was so like Aether that Monzel knew it was an Air Elemental. It took only a moment for the haunter to notice her. “I am known as Whisperwind, humble scion of the winds. My skies are denied me by uncouth human sorcery, which seals me within this dream catcher. Though I yearn to be free of this ramshackle, dangling trinket, to return to the wide world beyond, I can not escape without aid.”
As Monzel turned to continue her scouting Whisperwind flew to the end of his chains, a look of desperation on his face. “My subtle form is ensnared within this dream catcher. Aid my escape, I beg of you!”
Refusing to allow the poor haunter to remain trapped for another second Monzel called Aether down. Moments later the dream catcher exploded under the force of Aether’s song, taking the hated chains with it.
Whisperwind wasted no time in flying over and giving Monzel a bow. “Again may I ride the winds of freedom. I thank you, kind entity.”
Realizing that she had to hurry now that the plasm was flowing Monzel passed through to the basement where Balam had said the book would be found. Rather then waste precious time searching herself she had Boo give the room a round of Kinesis which brought the tome tumbling to the floor in the middle of the room.
Passing through to the surface she found Stonewall still sitting near the basement doors. On her signal the Earth Elemental drove his power into the ground around the doors. As the tremor grew stronger cracks formed in the old wood before it collapsed down the stairs.
The noise alerted the mortals who came running to investigate and, after a minute of discussion proceeded downward. Monzel watched as the trio found the book and opened it to a page filled with ancient looking writing.
Monzel was preparing to return to headquarters when a white-haired man appeared from the stairs. As he drew a pistol and forced the students back upstairs Monzel knew that he was Dr. Krauss, the one who had brought the tome here in the first place.
As Krauss returned Monzel saw a chain appear from the dirt floor along with a crazed looking ghost. Monzel wasted no time learning what she needed to be free.
“My cursed husband buried me here in the darkness. I remember…that ghastly tome, his fiendish ritual, my heart slowing as my sanity fled…till death. The lusts of the living have passed me by, save the desire for revenge. I must show to the living the truth of the dead!
Quickly modifying her plans to include this formidable banshee Monzel set her team loose on Krauss. Spiders, phantasmal fire and the sudden, terrible appearance of the banshee drove him to the door.
Seeing the students descending the stairs Monzel quickly pulled her team from their fetters as a mistake at this point would be unacceptable. As the mortals began the ritual Monzel’s eyes were riveted on the ball of light rising from the tome. As it cleared the book she saw a faint shape begin to form.
As the light faded Monzel was shocked by the creature that had been summoned. Large claws, big teeth and four spiderish legs were the defining features of the Darkling. She was unprepared for the terrible power of the creature as it drew the sanity from the mortals into itself. Turning Monzel quickly passed through to the surface with her team hot on her heels. She kept enough of her cool to make sure her team was safely through the portal before hurrying through herself.
Only once they were safe inside the Ghoul Room did she allow her mind to work over what she had witnessed. Opening her book to the page that had appeared with the Darkling she began to read…
Monzel’s reading was interrupted as a portal opened and three haunters appeared. As Monzel came over a rather scared looking Spook handed her a paper with the Committee seal stamped on it. Breaking the seal she read the Committee’s message:
To aid in your conquest of Gravenville please accept these new recruits. Prepare well as you have quite a lot of work ahead of you.
Setting the paper aside she looked over the ghosts before her. A scared Spook, a scruffy dog and what appeared to be the front half of a horse. Taking a seat she opened to their pages to figure out what they could do.
The half horse was apparently a Sandman named Hypnos who could prove useful if she ever needed to put someone to sleep…though then she wouldn’t be able to scare them.
The dog Buck was classified as a Horde. As she would have guessed his hordes were made up of fleas. Odd but he might be a useful partner for Clatterclaws.
Finally she came to the page for the Spook. Her eyes immediately went to his bio with the hopes of finding out what his problem was.
“Quiver is terrified of everything including himself. However as it sometimes takes a thief to catch a thief sometimes it takes the scared to scare…”
As her mind processed that she noticed the map that covered the table shifting. The buildings that marked her successful missions were vanishing back into the map while two new structures rose…one of which was a boat sitting off the coast. Curious she tapped it and heard Balam’s voice in her head.
“Mortals are such amusing creatures that we of the dead rarely feel the need to involve ourselves in their poorly justified beliefs…Unless of course those beliefs pertain to out existence. Don Bartholomew, a criminal mortal of some self-importance has been badmouthing the dead, claiming that ‘There ain’t no such ting as ghosts.’ We ask that you…persuade him to change his mind.”
Realizing that she would need some powerful haunters with her for this mission Monzel floated off to form a team… As usual Monzel was first through the portal, eager to scout out the Don’s ship while her team came through. Floating down to land on the deck she passed through a pair of double doors into what was obviously a lounge, complete with piano which was playing a jaunty little tune.
As the music cut off mid-note Monzel saw the piano player appear…feet buried in a bucket of cement and a fish stuck in his ghostly form. Sighing the pianist turned to see Monzel standing a few feet away.
“I was the Don’s favorite pianist.” The ghost said, standing. “He loved to hear me tickle the ivories. That all fell apart one night when the boss was in a particularly bad mood…I guess I played the wrong tune. Went and got myself shot…But hey, I’m a professional. I just want to finish the tune I was playing…If only I could remember what it was.”
After a few more minutes with the piano player, Fingers according to her handbook Monzel moved out of the lounge. Hearing gun shots from behind a door marked Casino Monzel hurried over to investigate.
As she passed through the door she found herself staring down the barrel of a machine gun held by a ghost in the same type of suit she had seen some of Don Bartholomew’s men wearing.
Seeing that she wasn’t a mortal the gangster returned his attention to the man standing behind the roulette table but was still willing to acknowledge Monzel’s presence with his tale.
“I didn’t mind losing at the tables, the bank being Don Bartholomew’s money and all. But that darn croupier’s so afraid of the boss he made sure the house always wins. I catch him at it and the weasel shoots me dead with that little popgun. Ain’t right you know? I gotta get him back.”
Leaving the casino behind Monzel descended the grand staircase, passing several mortals in the hall before she passed through another door into the Don’s quarters. Pausing before what seemed to be a memorial of some kind Monzel was started when a voice started calling from thin air.
Glancing around the Ghost Master’s eyes fell on the urn that sat among the many pictures on the table. Leaning in close she could just make out the words being spoken.
“It was the dang Pulitzer had me snooping at the Don’s grandmother’s funeral but it was the goons with the guns had me hiding in the coffin see. That’s when I really felt the heat, know what I’m saying? Now I’m just ashes in this here urn, the Don thinking I’m what’s left of his grandma and all. If you could bust me loose I’d be grateful.”
Making a mental note to see what she could do for the poor spirit Monzel quickly left, knowing her team would be growing anxious but wanting to finish scouting the ship as the Department of Clairvoyance claimed that there were 4 spirits trapped aboard the ship.
Passing through the kitchens where a chef was whistling as he cooked she came across another stairwell and having no alternative she took it…descending into the very bowels of the ship where the sloshing of water against the hull was clearly heard. As she stood on a platform overlooking a large amount of bilge Monzel narrowly avoided the figure that leapt from the water to float before her…chains snaking away under the water.
As she looked over the webbed feet and hands Monzel realized she had found the last trapped spirit.
“They call me Wavemaster, spirit of the oceans, undine of the deep. Curse the progeny of monkeys. Those who reave the waves and cast their fellow beings into the deep, their tendrils swathed in stone. Now they have imprisoned me within the dark oubliette from which I can not escape. If only the mortals were sufficiently motivated to empty this vile bilge water.”
Having learned what she needed to know Monzel turned to return to her team when Wavemaster stopped her. “If you can restore blessed freedom to this imprisoned spirit by operating the pump Wavemaster will pledge her fealty to your cause.”
As she hurried back to her waiting Haunters Monzel’s mind was working on a way to show Don Bartholomew the error of his ways…
As the mortals continued to move about the ship Monzel gathered her team around her to discuss the plan.
“Lucky, head to the roulette table and if someone stops in to play make sure they win.” She told the Gremlin who purred and ran off.
“Boo, you’re going to be roaming the ship. I’ve heard at least three mortals whistling and one of them may be the one Fingers is trying to remember.” Monzel continued as she turned toward the Spook.
“Clatterclaws, Buck, Moonscream, you’ll be setting up outside the Don’s quarters. That spot has access to both staircases and the majority of the sleeping quarters so plasm should be no problem here. Remember, we have haunters trapped here that require mortals to be freed so watch your powers. I’d prefer not to have a Temporal Clerk bring us back here later.”
As the Hordes and Banshee headed off to bind into the mortal world Monzel turned her eyes toward the Don’s page in the handbook… ****
Without the aid of Boo’s chains to draw the mortals in Clatterclaws had to guess when to strike and showed surprisingly good timing for a spider, unleashing his legion of arachnids onto the head of a very surprised goon who was coming from the stairs.
He made the mistake of running toward his room though and was stopped in his tracks as a scruffy dog appeared in the hallway. He was even more surprised when a mass of fleas leapt off the dog’s fur, bounced across the floor and jumped onto his legs. The terrible cacophony of noise that erupted behind him sent his terror to new heights and moments later he had leapt over the rail into the bay and was swimming for shore.
Meanwhile Lucky was having great fun messing with the croupier. The ships captain had shown up to play and the cat had made sure to charm him before the wheel was spun. She could sense the fear building in his body as the stack of chips in front of him dwindled and the pile in front of the captain grew. As the captain made his wager and the wheel spun Lucky felt her strength ebbing. She saw the captain pluck the last chips from the croupier before she collapsed; the strain of charming a mortal for so long had exhausted the Gremlin.
In the bowels of the ship Monzel was following the stewardess. Boo had sent her on a fool’s errand and she was heading for the bilge. Passing through the floor Monzel diverted some of the plasm flow into Wavemaster’s powers.
As Julie stepped off the stairs she screamed…Water was running down the walls and adding to the bilge water that had gathered in the bottom of the ship. Splashing through puddles on the catwalk she pulled the switch next to the boiler controls and sighed in relief as the thumping of the bilge pump echoed off the metal walls. As she left she marveled at how much the bilge had gone done already…
“The vastness of the ocean is mine once more. It will be an honor to serve you.” Wavemaster said as her chains faded to nothing. Looking over the power listing for the Elemental Monzel smiled, this was going to be fun.
Don Bartholomew was grumbling furiously as he headed for his quarters. He was not one to stand for foolish pranks but his men seemed to think otherwise. Half his people had jumped overboard screaming about ghosts…Idiots. Everyone knew that ghosts were nonexistent. Though he had to wonder where they had been hiding all the fake spiders.
As he entered the rich purple interior of his cabin his eyes fell on the memorial across from his bed. With his gaze locked on the pictures around the urn he didn’t notice the object that landed on his head. It took several moments before he tore his gaze away and saw a fish pass by an inch from his nose.
Glancing around the room he saw more fish on the floor, the bed, the shelves and everywhere else, seemingly falling out of thin air. A loud cracking noise drew his attention back to the urn as it split neatly in half, leaving a pile of ashes. As he watched a swirl of mist rose up from the ashes and surged toward him.
Ray, the Don’s second in command was coming to report on the events plaguing the ship when the door flew open and the Don rushed past.
“Thanks Chief, Oh and hold the front page. I feel a story coming on…” The very charred form of Flash Jordan said as adjusted the camera around her neck.
A check of the ship revealed that nearly all the mortals had fled overboard. The chef Jude Klous, Eddie the croupier and Bartholomew himself were the only ones left aboard. Boo was tailing Klous, trying to get him to the lounge while Clatterclaws and Buck had been moved to drive off Eddie. Lucky had been freed of her binding so she could regain her strength.
The sound of piano music drew Monzel to the lounge in time to see Klous jump ship as Fingers worked his powers on the piano. Turning he saw Monzel and smiled. “Say, you’re one heck of a conductor. Got any requests?”
As she upped Boo’s power band gunfire echoed nearby followed by screams. Worst case scenarios leaping to mind she rushed across the hall with Boo and Fingers behind her. As she passed through the wall of the casino Monzel relaxed. Knuckles was firing on Eddie as he fled toward the prow with Buck loping along behind him.
As he lowered his gun Knuckles turned toward Monzel. “Ha! That croupier sure can run! I guess you’re the boss now, got anyone you need leaning on?” After assuring the mobster that she didn’t need anyone “leaned on” Monzel led her small group to the bridge where the Don had fled to.
Checking her handbook the young Ghost Master could see that the Don was nearly at the breaking point. As Moonscream and Buck arrived Monzel nodded them forward.
A moment later a scream was heard and the door flew open as the fearless Don Bartholomew ran past the invisible ghosts with the terrible form of Moonscream drifting along behind him. A few minutes later she heard a splash and then the voice of Balam in her head.
“Don Bartholomew has fled in terror. He will not deny our existence lightly in the future.”
As the voice faded a bright golden cloud appeared and was absorbed into her handbook. Looking Monzel was astounded at the reward she had been given. Summoning up the portal that would return them to the Ghoul Room Monzel wondered what her next assignment would be.
As Monzel walked the halls of the Ghoul Room her mind was going over the training she had just paid for. She had chosen several key members of her team, including Cogjammer and Buck to receive new powers to make them even more useful in the field.
Reaching her table in the old cafeteria where she had spread the map of Gravenville from her handbook Monzel watched as buildings rose from the paper. The Police Station was still present and another structure had risen on the North end of town. It only took a moment for Monzel to recognize it as the Kappa Lambda Sorority House.
Curious as to why it had reappeared on her map Monzel tapped it and heard Balam’s voice in her head.
“The perky antics of the insufferable Kappa Lambda sorority house are excruciating at best. Ordinarily they would be beneath our attention but since your recent success terrifying the Alpha Tau fraternity, they have become strangely cautious. The sorority house recently accepted three new pledges as part of a plan to protect themselves against any future attacks from the spirit world, a coven of student witches! The mortals must not be encouraged to invite protection against us – Swift and decisive action is required. Drive the witches away from the sorority house!”
As the voice faded Monzel’s mind was already thinking over who she would take with her. Clatterclaws and Boo were a must and she’d probably include Static as well. Making certain her handbook was in its place at her side Monzel headed off to round up a team…
Since she had been here once before Monzel was able to remember the variety of fetters avalible and build her team around that. Boo, Buck and Clatterclaws made up her basic scare team while Static, Weatherwitch and Moonscream were added as back-up.
Spreading them out over the house’s main floor Monzel left them to their own devices while she went in search of trapped spirits. Passing through the floor she entered the basement and was met with something new. A circle had been drawn on the floor and objects placed at each point. As she passed by a brazier with a flame burning steadily she was surprised to see a salamander, a spirit of flame chained to his element. The salamander seemed pleased to see another ghost though. “Impudent wenches! I, a salamander of the noble flame deigned to attend their ritual in person when called upon to act as guardian of the South…And I am rewarded with neglect! They failed to dismiss me, so I remain enjoined in the fire of this brazier while it still burns.”
Realizing she had not brought a water elemental with her Monzel could do little but wait and hope for the best. Turning away from the spirit Monzel was about to return to check on her team when she felt something. It passed too quickly for her to identify but somehow she knew it was not good.
Pausing, the young Ghost Master pulled out her book and opened the cover as a pain-filled howling filled the air and the feeling returned, more powerful then before. Shaking her head to clear it Monzel paged through her book in search of answers when the pain in her head reached a peak and a voice she knew to be Weatherwitch’s was heard. “Different century, same persecution!”
Finally she found the right section and went almost completely white as the gravity of the situation dawned on her. Now she understood, the circle in the basement protected the witches from the supernatural…and they could banish ghosts. Monzel knew what she would find as she hurried up through the floor…
It was worse then she had expected. She had found Static and Moonscream doing their best to hold off the witches who were surrounded by glowing nets of energy. Boo had flown over and reported on the situation. Clatterclaws and Buck had been banished and Weatherwitch had been taken out as well trying to help them. As Monzel tried to form a plan she watched in horror as magical bonds wrapped around Moonscream, cutting her off from the flow of Plasm.
As the Banshee struggled against the bonds a red-haired witch directed a tendril of light at the trapped ghost. As a green glow enveloped Moonscream Monzel heard her shouting. “I return to darkness!” before a flash of green light claimed her.
“We’ve failed.” Monzel said to Boo as she cut off the plasm flow and waved Static over. “We need a way to take out their protection.” Monzel said to herself as she opened the portal and led her remaining team through…
Back at the Ghoul Room Monzel was pleased to see her banished haunters safe and sound…though badly weakened.
After dismissing them Monzel went over what she knew in the hopes that something would come to her that would make the odds of victory better.
Stepping through the portal onto the grounds of the sorority house Monzel went over her notes while her team came through. It was risky but if it worked it could give her the edge she needed to remove the witches.
Dropping into the basement Firetail greeted her from his flaming brazier. Nodding to the Fire Elemental she began giving orders.
Stonewall, Wavemaster and Whisperwind bound themselves to the other items in the circle, completing what Firetail had been apart of. Monzel could feel the witches fear as their protection was destroyed. What she hadn’t foreseen was the witches coming to investigate.
The first down the stairs could obviously sense the Elementals because she sent her magic against Stonewall, who was closest. Monzel’s eyes followed the light as it hurtled toward the ghost…and was absorbed by a glowing shield that materialized around Stonewall and the others. Glancing back she could see that the rest of the haunters she had brought were shielded as well.
Monzel heard Drycha’s amazed voice in her head. “Your Elementals have subverted the witch’s circle of protection. Now your own haunters will be immune to the witch’s magic.”
Grinning at the unexpected side-effect of her plan Monzel started up to the main floor when Firetail’s voice stopped her. “I thank you kind entity. Though I now refuse to answer the incantations of mortals, I will gladly aid your struggle.”
Leaving the Elementals with orders to use specific powers that wouldn’t hurt the spell Monzel set about exploring the rest of the house for trapped spirits. The entry proved a good starting point considering the chains that kept a strange ghost bound to a jack-o-lantern.
The groundhog part was normal enough; Monzel knew that animal ghosts were quite common. It was the shades and speech that made her pause. Animal ghosts gaining speech was a somewhat rarer sight.
The groundhog noticed her and spoke up. “Man, am I glad to see you. Check out this crazy, crusty light-source device. How retro is this! Those freaky voodoo chicks downstairs accidentally trapped me here while like, making that spooky protection circle. I’m really going to need something a bit more, you know current, if I’m going to bust free. Something with a bit of juice to it.”
Monzel could tell without even checking her book that this was a Gremlin. Moving on Monzel ascended to the second floor. She found a large number of sorority girls, as well as a few of the Alpha Taus but no ghosts. She was returning to the basement to collect her remaining haunters when something made her change course to the second floor bathroom. It was the last place she would expect to find a ghost but as she faced the mirror she came face to face with a girl in the outfit of a cheerleader…In the mirror. A look at her guide told Monzel what she needed to know. This was a Fetch, one of the rarer types of ghosts. The Committee had only 3 and they were currently assigned to the more experienced Ghost Masters.
“It’s like, totally out there.” The Fetch said as she focused her attention on Monzel. “I’m like in a mirror, you know? And I’ve been practicing all my new routines as a ghost. I’ve tried doing the Clone routine but it’s, like totally impossible. Maybe its like, the hair! If I could practice on something easier for me to copy I could totally nail it!”
Monzel was slightly daunted by that task. She’d never really noticed the hair of the mortals she was scaring but it looked like if she wanted to recruit this Fetch to her team she’d have to…
As Monzel returned to her team she kept a close eye out for anyone with hair like Tricia’s as well as any easily movable electronics.
Finding a hair-do that was almost perfect on one of the girls hiding downstairs Monzel called Boo over. “We need this girl upstairs.” Monzel said as she watched the girl, who according to her book was named Blair Whelchel. “Get her upstairs but DON’T scare her off. If she flees before we’re done with her then I’ll have to get our Temporal Clerk to bring us back here to go through this all over again.”
Nodding to show he understood his orders the Spook unleashed one of his favorite powers, though it was little used due to the lack of scaring ability: Fool’s Errand.
Blair suddenly stood straight, listening before taking off at a run for the stairs. She could see her sorority sisters running in all directions from the ghostly visitors but try as she might Blair couldn’t stop herself from moving up the stairs, and entering the upstairs bathroom…
She nearly fell over as whatever force had been driving her suddenly stopped, leaving her standing in the middle of the room. After catching her breath Blair turned to the mirror…and screamed in surprise.
A smiling girl in a cheerleading uniform stared back at her from the mirror. It took a few moments to realize that she knew this girl. Some of the girls who had been here longer had told the newer pledges about a cheerleader who fell from the top of a pyramid formation and was killed. Her name was…Tricia if she was remembering right.
Raising her eyes back to the mirror she saw green light flickering on the other side of the mirror. Without warning the light burst out of the glass and enveloped Blair who was too terrified to scream.
The light lasted only a minute before fading and Blair saw that the mirror was showing her reflection as it should. Shaking her head she turned to leave and came face to face with…Herself?
Startled by the unexpected sight Blair took a step back as Tricia dropped the Clone and did a flip. “I totally did it!” She said in a cheerful voice before vanishing in a flash of light. Overcome by what she had witnessed Blair fainted.
Grinning widely Boo flew off to report his success to Monzel…
Monzel watched proudly as a witch ran screaming into the night with a legion of spiders at her heels. One down and two left to scare. Moving down to the basement to check on the circle of protection Monzel was treated to an interesting sight.
Whisperwind’s siren song had drawn a second witch into a trap. Stonewall had caused the floor to briefly change form and cause the witch to sink into the ground which hardened around her. Once the power had run its course Firetail struck with a burst of power that set the witch alight as she fled the basement.
Monzel had finally found a piece of electronic equipment that could be moved. The problem was it was on the head of one of the frat boys. Realizing the unsuspecting fool needed an errand the Ghost Master let Boo do his stuff. As the boy ran out of the room Monzel followed…
Tony Tupulo didn’t even notice the ghosts causing mayhem around him. The music coming through his headphones kept his mind unaware of either the ghosts or the fact that he was moving downstairs and heading for the foyer.
Monzel watched as the power left Tony once he entered the foyer. From her position she could hear the Gremlin’s excited voice. “Oh yeah, this is, like, way cool! Gotta surf the lightning dude! I’m so totally amped!”
Tony finally took notice of his surroundings as the music shorted out. The first thing he noticed was a ball of light growing on the table. The ball continued to grow until Hogwash released it, the massive surge of electrical energy plunging the house into darkness and drawing the Gremlin into the headphones. As the electricity loving groundhog appeared at Monzel’s side she smiled and directed him to a fetter.
Michelle Ridgemont realized that her fellow witches had been driven away as she tiptoed around a corner. Her best chance to defeat the ghosts was to break their control over the protection circle. Without the shield they would be vulnerable to her banishing magic again.
Surprised to reach the basement stairs in the kitchen so easily Michelle let her judgment be clouded by thoughts of the defeat she was about to inflict on the spirit world.
Striding confidently down the stairs she didn’t see the dog poke his head from the wall and growl softly. Descending the stairs Michelle could see the flames of the brazier flickering in the darkness.
Seeing the air element as the weakest point in the circle Michelle approached the balloon, preparing to destroy the circle.
She paused though as her ankle snagged. Looking down the witch saw dozens of green tendrils growing from the floor to immobilize her as Clatterclaws materialized on the ceiling and unleashed his 8 legged hordes on the enemy. Buck’s fleas joined the attack while Wavemaster caused trout to fall from the ceiling.
Michelle was on the verge of fleeing when everything suddenly stopped and she fell to her knees as she tried to recover her courage. Standing shakily she was able to watch as the cloaked figure of Monzel appeared before her.
Marveling at the commanding presence that radiated from this spirit Michelle backed toward the door as Monzel’s team appeared all around her. Turning with a scream the witch fled…
Breathing a sigh of relief at the close victory Monzel heard the voices of Balam and Drycha congratulating her. Her gold plasm reward appeared before her in two shimmering balls. “Your usual reward for a successful mission as well as an extra bit for using the witch’s magic against them.
Opening the portal Monzel led her team and new recruits out of the house.
After taking the time to put several of her Haunters through the training of new powers Monzel felt prepared for her next mission. Inspecting the map of Gravenville she watched as the Police Station rose from the paper. Tapping the building she heard Balam’s voice in her head.
“The mortals of Gravenville are sorely shaken by your victories; now you must capitalize on your successes by taking away their sense of security. Heel Street precinct station serves much of the city, and is a bastion of order and civic duty…The perfect target! Empty it of all mortal presence and you cannot fail to spread fear into the heart of the city.”
Turning from the map Monzel saw several of her Haunters waiting. Smiling she looked over the spirits before her. Hogwash, Firetail, Stonewall, Boo, Clatterclaws and Buck were selected to join her in the field…
Her normal strategy of scouting the building before assigning her team to fetters fell out the window. Peering into the cells Monzel saw at least half a dozen mortals trapped within, including several Alpha Taus.
Directing Boo, Buck and Clatterclaws to bind within the cells she set them to their highest band and continued on her way. Peering into the morgue she was only slightly surprised to see a ghost chained to one of the tables.
The beat-up looking cop drew her gun as she turned to face the visitor. She returned the weapon to its holster when she saw it was another ghost before her and not a mortal.
“Excuse me citizen. Maybe you could help me? Seems I was set-up, the punks I was busting were waiting for me, guns in hand. I reckon their source is on the inside – a cop on the take, you know? I gotta know who it was. I’ll bet he’s having nightmares about being found out. Wonder how much my life was worth…”
Feeling the power radiating from the ghost Monzel swore that she’d find a way to free her. Heading back toward the stairs she turned into the hallway opposite the cells. As she passed a room marked storage Monzel was distracted by the lights flickering briefly. Her curiosity getting the better of her she passed through the door into a tiled room with boxes piled against the walls.
What caught her attention though was the power switch with the axe stuck in it. Moving around the partition she could only stare. Mortal History had been part of her training with Rakarth so she knew that mortals had created some incredibly evil devices but she never would have expected to find one here.
She could see tiny bolts of electricity running across the ghost’s body as he glanced up at her.
“I never meant to kill no one, but I guess I did and I guess I deserved the chair because of it. Last one I was, last to go on this chair before local cops stopped administering the juice. Now I’m stuck here – got all this power, but nowhere to flow it.”
Realizing that she’d hit a jackpot in powerful ghosts Monzel’s mind began working on a way to free them…
Monzel was startled when Firetail appeared next to her. “Someone just came around and entered the station through the back doors.” The Elemental reported. “There she is now.” He continued, nodding toward the stairs where a female mortal had appeared.
Dressed in a fur lined jacket and hat the new arrival stopped as she reached the spot where Monzel and Firetail floated. After glancing around for several minutes she continued down the hallway.
Upon reaching the hall’s end she pressed a button on the panel mounted on the wall. With a click the door of a cell Monzel had missed swung open. She knew the mortal who stepped out into the hall though: Dr. Krauss, the professor who had been so intent on summoning the Darkling. With the stranger in the lead Krauss made his way to the stairs and vanished upstairs. Making a note to have the Department of Clairvoyance look into this woman who seemed to be an associate of the professor the Ghost Master floated back to where her team waited as terrified screams echoed from the cells…
After several minutes of planning Monzel fettered Firetail on the control box in the evidence room, intending to scare off the officer on duty there. Her reasoning was that if there was a corrupt officer in the station they wouldn’t be able to resist the money being stored in there.
Leaving the Elemental happily freaking out the officer with his phantasmal fire the Ghost Master continued to the lobby where several civilians were waiting for a tired female officer to help them.
Waving Stonewall forward she directed him to a potted banzai tree sitting on a side table. The fettering ended almost instantly as a spirit rose up from the plant. Monzel had seen quite a few Earth Elementals around the Committee buildings but never had she seen one with hair.
With a bow to Monzel the ghost spoke. “Banzai discovered! Servant to your noble cause. A loyal spirit.”
Impressed by the unexpected ghost Monzel welcomed Banzai to her team while Stonewall fettered properly to the plant and started unleashing his control over the earth on the mortals, causing vines to grow up the walls and the floor to partly swallow the officer when she tried to run.
Monzel was beginning to get worried. The guy guarding the evidence room had finally fled the station and she had Hogwash open up the cells to allow the terrified prisoners to flee. She had even managed to free Electrospasm.
Her team was getting restless now though. All the non-cops had been scared off and nobody had fallen for the trap she’d set in the evidence room. She was barely keeping the plasm level stable with a rain of spiders from Clatterclaws on anyone that was alone.
Finally after what seemed like an eternity to Monzel someone took the bait. Followed unseen by Buck and Monzel one of the officers, Detective Karl Franz according to Monzel’s book, headed for the evidence room. Pausing at the door to peer in all directions the cop seemed satisfied and eased the door shut.
Passing through the door Monzel could see Franz stuffing his pockets with cash from the briefcase on the table. Unexpectedly she heard Blue Murder’s voice in her head. “This guys as bent as my bullet-holed badge, get him over here!”
Smiling Monzel upped Blue’s power band to spring the trap…
Karl Franz was whistling as he strode toward the door, pockets full of money. He was so preoccupied with thoughts of how he’d spend the cash he failed to notice that instead of passing through the door into the hallway he left the evidence room…and ended up in the morgue down the hallway.
He took notice when he bumped into one of the tables though. Whistle cutting off the Detective looked around, trying to figure out how he’d ended up there when his eyes fell on the body bag sitting on the table.
As the bag started glowing green the cop backed away as Blue Murder appeared before him, gun drawn. “I’d read you your rights scumbag except you ain’t got any. Hope the money was worth it, because your soul ain’t worth a dime.”
Letting out a rather amusing shriek Franz took off at a run with Buck in hot pursuit.
Heading back to the main floor Monzel gave the signal her team had been waiting for. The remaining cops didn’t stand a chance as bolts of electricity flew from computers and lights and phantasmal fire engulfed everything. The addition of legions of spiders and a dog appearing out of thin air quickly drove the last of Gravenville’s police into the night.
The return to the Ghoul Room was a great relief. Monzel tossed her handbook on a table and leaned back in a chair to rest…
Monzel was gazing at an empty map when Rakarth appeared beside her. “Did I anger the Committee in some way Rakarth? Its been over a week since we finished up at the Police Station.” Monzel asked. “No, and Balam sends his apologies for making you wait so long. There were some larger issues that required the Committee’s attention.”
“The good news...” He continued before Monzel could speak. “Is that it’s been sorted out and you’re to proceed with your work.” As he spoke the old ghost waved a hand over the map which immediately sprouted a building.
“Hey.” Monzel said as she moved closer to the risen building. “That looks like that place we haunted in Calamityville.”
“It is.” Rakarth said. “Apparently we aren’t finished there yet. Good luck Monzel.” As he spoke the last words he vanished back to the Spirit World.
Having gathered her team Monzel reached out and tapped the house and sat back.
“It seems that sinister events transpire around a certain family house, in a certain suburb of Gravenville. Your previous success brought to light the grisly antics of an unhinged old lady, but the grim history of this house stretches further into the past. It would seem that the house was built on the sight of an ancient chicken burial ground, the pit for the Calamityville Poultry Slaughterhouse. So many chickens and turkeys were slain and thrown into the earth, their troubled essences await retribution.”
“The troubled mind of one Carol-Ann Hutz, a child who has already witnessed your power once has become home for Hardboiled, a gestalt of the headless necks and ruffled feathers of the departed. Aid this poltergeist in emptying the house of rational mortal presence and we will acquire a valuable new ally.”
Monzel turned to survey the Haunters before her. “Boo, Buck, Clatterclaws.” She said, knowing the trio would work well together. “Firetail, Moonscream…and Hogwash.” She continued as the rest of the team stepped away from the opening portal…
Appearing on the lawn of the house Monzel noticed that it looked largely the same though this time there was only one spirit to free. Leading her team through the front wall the Ghost Master wasted little time locating the floating mass of feathers that was Hardboiled.
Having been there before Monzel realized that the best places to set up would be in the living room and hallway. Splitting her team between the rooms she was pleased to note the pair of mortals lounging on the couch.
At a signal from Monzel Hogwash sent a wave of electricity through the room, shocking the mortals to their feet and sending off sparks from the stereo he was bound to.
As they ran in separate directions Monzel noticed the younger of the two pausing beside a table in the hall and picking up the phone that lay there. Monzel thought little of it until she remembered one of her lessons with Rakarth: “Though the Spirit World is strong, Mortals are not without their defenses.”
“Clatterclaws! Get him!” Monzel shouted to the spider hanging lazily above her head. As a massive number of spiders fell from the Horde’s web and flooded the hall the mortal dropped the phone in terror and continued his flight from the room.
Calling Boo and Moonscream back to her side she rebound them to the room. “Guard this phone.” She said. “We don’t want them calling for help.” As Monzel moved away she scolded herself for nearly putting her team in danger. The young Ghost Master was determined not to make the same mistakes she’d made on her last visit to the house.
After stopping several more attempts by the mortals to reach the phone Monzel took the fright higher into the house. Buck was positioned outside with orders to chase anyone who ran into the yard while Clatterclaws was free to roam the house with his hordes.
Fortunately the presence of Hardboiled kept Carol-Ann from even noticing the haunting around her. As a bonus the poltergeist had full access to his powers unlike some of the other spirits she’d freed.
As one of the women of the house fled off the property Monzel realized that they were nearly done. Aside from Caron-Ann there were only two mortals left in the house. Of them Marcia was already running for the boundary with Buck on her heels and Diana was trying to find a spot away from the spiders that fell from Clatterclaws web.
As she watched Marcia flee over the boundary line moments after Diana she saw the teenage mortal pause…at a payphone.
Monzel knew there was nothing she could do. The boundary marked the edge of the haunting area and none of her team could get past it. Thinking quickly she cut off the flow of Plasm to her haunters, letting their powers recharge while they awaited visitors.
It was probably 5 minutes before a mortal in a grey jumpsuit appeared at the border. Quickly taking in the pack on his back she felt a wave of fear flow through her.
It was a Ghostbreaker, a part of the most powerful of the Spirit World’s mortal enemies. The high-tech gear they carried allowed them to not only locate but banish a ghost from the mortal realm with great speed.
Monzel remembered another part of her training though: Both the powers of witches and mediums and the technology of the Ghostbreakers only detected Haunters that were receiving a flow of Plasm for their powers. Knowing the timing would have to be perfect to pull off the plan formulating in her mind the Ghost Master gathered her team around her.
Laurence Murray kept checking his scanner as he entered the house. Not even the tiniest bit of activity was showing up but the Ghostbreaker knew that whatever had driven the family out must still be hanging around.
As he moved along the hallway toward the kitchen the scanner started beeping. Ready for whatever he was about to find Murray burst through the door…to find nothing but a bunch of sparking kitchen appliances.
Tightening the grip on his weapon the Ghostbreaker glanced nervously around the room as the beeping intensified. The sudden appearance of a groundhog with sunglasses startled him into action. As tendrils of white light hit the ghost Murray wondered how such a small creature could have scared off a whole family.
Laurence was so focused that he didn’t notice the platter flying across the room until it crashed into him, sending him sprawling to the kitchen floor. It only took him a second to regain his footing but that was enough time for the fleas to make their move, leaping from the matted fur of a dog that appeared in the doorway and hopping onto the mortal…
Monzel watched with a pleased expression on her face as her team distracted the Ghost Breaker. “After him! Don’t let him calm down!” Monzel shouted as Buck and Boo took off after the Ghostbreaker.
The duo drove Murray across the hall to the living room. The moment he crossed the threshold his scanner went crazy. He skidded to a halt as a wall of flames leapt up in front of him and a massive number of spiders appeared from thin air and coated the room in writhing arachnid bodies.
Laurence was on the verge of blind fear but the last straw was the sight of the white-haired woman that floated in through the wall. The breaker fled out to the porch with Moonscream’s terrible form following him…
Hardboiled appeared at Monzel’s side as she watched Carol-Ann, now free of the poltergeist’s presence flee the property. Not able to actually understand the ghosts clucking she just nodded and turned as the gold plasm was absorbed into her handbook.
Looking forward to her next mission Monzel opened the portal and led her team through…
“The arrival of a Ghostbreaker was unexpected.” Monzel said as she thumbed through the section of her handbook that covered mortal defenses. “According to this there are three members of the Ghostbreakers currently in Gravenville but the Department of Clairvoyance hasn’t been able to pinpoint their location yet.”
“And now that they know you’re in Gravenville they’ll be trying to track you down. Fortunately there are a number of old buildings that they have to check so the odds of being discovered are slim.” Rakarth said as he moved towards the map table.
Monzel glided over as a large structure rose near the center of the map. Touching it she heard the voice of Drycha in her head.
“It is time to erode another bastion of mortal security Ghost Master! Turn your attention to the already overtaxed Gravenville General Hospital, where souls are stitched back into impermanent bodies without thought being given to the value of such a gesture. You need only remove the senior practitioners of the healing arts to be successful here, though additional mayhem is always appreciated.”
Monzel was already moving among her team as they gathered. “Weatherwitch, Moonscream. Boo, Buck and Clatterclaws of course. Firetail, Electrospasm…and Banzai.” She decided as she summoned up the portal…
Appearing beside a fountain outside the Hospital, Monzel marveled at the size of the place. It had to be at least 5 stories, far larger then anything else she had haunted aside from the yacht.
Her team settled in to wait for her as the Ghost Master moved off to scout the place. Gliding up the outside of the building she passed through a wall into what appeared to be a ward room filled with beds. Several people roamed in and out the doors or gathered around a small TV set on a table against one wall.
Monzel glanced quickly around the room then did a double take as she focused on what appeared to be a giant rabbit standing beside a crying boy. The ghostly chains connecting the pair proved to Monzel that she hadn’t lost her mind as she approached.
The rabbit turned her attention away from the mortal boy and faced Monzel, revealing the ghost to be quite human looking, hands resting lightly on her hips as she looked Monzel over.
“Are you a Ghost Master?” She asked curiously, continuing when Monzel nodded in reply. “I’m a bit tied up looking after the kid right now. His stuffed rabbit got stole and now the little tyke just won’t stop crying. If you could help us, maybe I could come work for you. Bet you haven’t seen many Tricksters, Hm?”
Despite realizing that locating a single stuffed toy in this place would be nearly impossible Monzel agreed to help because what the ghost said was true, she had never met a Trickster before. She knew there were several serving other Masters but had never seen them around the Spirit World.
Gliding along a corridor she turned down a short hallway and passed through a set of closed doors into an empty exam room. Snoring from the corner drew her attention as she spotted a ghost floating a few inches above a gurney, snoring loudly.
“Hey, wake up!” Monzel said as she shook the ghost who mumbled something and turned over. Annoyed she continued on, passing an office where a nurse and one of the doctors were talking, glancing around once in a while as if they feared being seen.
Not bothering with the stairs the young Ghost Master dropped through several floors, passing more exam rooms and the floor where storage and the kitchens and staff offices were located.
As she landed in the basement she could feel the presence of a ghost nearby. Taking the only doors she almost walked right into a mortal woman who was dressed as a doctor. The spirit trapped here was hard to miss; the burned edges of what had once been a beautiful dress waving in an unfelt breeze and the heartbroken crying emanating from the center of the room being clear signs.
The ghost glimpsed her out of the corner of her eye and rose with a sniffle. Dabbing her eyes with an unburnt piece of her sleeve she spoke. “My wedding should have been the happiest day of my life. Perhaps it would have been if he’d turned up!” Monzel unknowingly backed away a step as the spirit’s voice hardened. “Wasn’t I enough for him? Why did he need all those others? The voices led me from the white room to the roof, to embrace the lightning! Now they say that philandering men must be punished! That I can’t stop, till in death do they part!”
Monzel started to speak but was cut off. “I will be vengeance, the voices said. When a man strays from fidelity Brigit will make them pay!”
Monzel remained quiet for a few minutes only speaking up once she was sure to be uninterrupted. “I’ll free you if I can. But no haunter can be part of the Committee and kill mortals.” She cautioned when Brigit looked at her hopefully. “I have a much better fate in store for them.” Brigit said sweetly. “Bring my almost husband here and find out what it is.”
Knowing a slightly mad ghost when she met one Monzel agreed and hastily withdrew back to her team to arrange the haunting…
Monzel closed her handbook and summoned Boo to her side. “Boo, you’ve got an important mission. Seth Greenwood is the doctor we want but according to the Department of Clairvoyance’s files he is a compulsive womanizer who has been having affairs with at least half the nurses here.”
“I’m going to have the others focus on scaring the nurses off; your job is to keep Greenwood out of the way. Stick with him and keep hitting him with Fool’s Errand. With any luck he’ll walk right into Brigit’s grasp.”
With the usual grin on his face the Spook zipped off down the hall in search of his target. Monzel watched him go before turning to the others. The team nodded as she explained the plan to them…
The grumbling and complaints of the patients brought Nurse Bry storming out of the office. “What?” She demanded, her tone stopping them all mid-complaint. “The TV’s messed up again…” Ferro said at last. “What are we supposed to do now?”
“You could recover and get out.” Bry snapped as she shut the office door in the Corporal’s face.
As the patients wandered back toward the TV area they noticed the sparks that had begun flying from the set. They were too slow to back away however and were caught in the surge that erupted from Electrospasm’s chair.
Annoyed by the screams of fear Nurse Bry reappeared and was confused by the sight of patients running for the doors. She soon joined them as a cloud of fleas leapt from one of the beds and landed on her…
“We’ve got them on the run now.” Monzel said to herself as she watched Moonscream unleash a Cacophony of terrible sounds that drove one of the patients away from the stairs.
She came to a halt when a familiar mortal appeared on the stairs leading up. It was the woman who busted Dr. Krauss out of the Police Station. Leaving the woman standing on the landing, talking into a cell phone Monzel floated up to the ceiling to check out where she had come from but found her progress impeded by a glowing ward.
After several minutes of flying along the ceiling Monzel was satisfied that the entire upper level of the hospital was covered by the ward. As she floated back down toward the floor more mortals came down from the upper levels.
As her gaze traveled over the uniforms and equipment the trio carried, she realized things had just gotten a lot tougher for her. Knowing there was no time to spare Monzel killed the flow of plasm to her team and freed them from their fetters.
As the members of her team appeared Monzel noticed the worried looks on several faces. “The Ghostbreakers just decided to drop in for a visit. There are 3 of them and they’ve split up to cover the building.”
“I have a plan though.” She continued after a short pause. “It’s risky but if we pull it off we can send all 3 of them running in terror. I want you all to roam. Follow the Ghostbreakers and when you get the chance, strike. Then get out before they can recover. Keep them running if you can, the more they run the less chance they have to banish us.”
As the haunters started to spread out across the building Monzel unleashed the plasm once more, hopefully enough to give the mortals a good scare…
As he moved along the corridor outside the hospital kitchen Raymond glanced nervously at his scanner. The terrified people running around proved that the place was indeed under attack by ghosts.
The beeping that erupted from the scanner sent the Ghostbreaker’s eyes glancing in all directions. He was momentarily confused as the only thing he could see was a dog, a very scruffy dog at that. As the beeping continued he realized that he could see the floor through the dog’s body and without thinking fired on the ghostly dog.
Buck yelped as tendrils of light surrounded him. Finding herself unable to free the dog from his fetter Monzel called the nearest ghost to her. Clatterclaws came skittering across the ceiling toward her as the Ghostbreaker flicked a switch on his weapon. The spider’s many eyes took in the details as the cage began to glow brighter…
In the blink of an eye the Horde was positioned directly over Raymond’s head as a swirl of green rose from the spider’s body. As the power activated Clatterclaws ghostly form became corporeal as the spider released its hold on the ceiling and fell toward the enemy.
The weight of the spider as it smacked into the Ghostbreaker’s head dazed him for a moment but that was all the time it took for the Horde to unleash her Legion. Hundreds of smaller spiders fell from the ghost’s body to crawl over Raymond and the floor.
The fear in that moment finally overwhelmed Raymond and he let go of the trigger to swipe at the creepy-crawlies moving along his arms. Buck collapsed to the floor as the glowing cage finally shivered and vanished. He only rested a moment before he rose to his paws.
The spiders had vanished along with Clatterclaws and as Raymond returned his gaze to the hallway he saw that his target was free. Raising his snout Buck scented the air and not smelling anyone else nearby he turned on Raymond, a menacing growl rising from his throat as his form solidified like Clatterclaws had.
Raymond was far too slow and before he could ready his weapon for another shot a mass of green vines rose from the floor and wrapped around his ankles as a dark mass fell from the matted fur and raced across the floor toward him.
Buck’s fleas were as angry as their master was and fell on the mortal with a ferocity they had never shown before…
The strain of running two powers at once was draining though and before long the vines fell away and Raymond seized the chance to run. With a terrifying howl Buck summoned his horde back to his fur and charged off after the scared Ghostbreaker, leaving Monzel floating against the wall, in awe of her teams scaring abilities…
Terrified screams coming from the direction of the operating rooms drew Monzel’s attention as she floated upstairs to check on the ghosts that were busy with the nurses.
Passing a fleeing patient the Ghost Master caught sight of Moonscream, tattered dress waving as she revealed her pale form to the trio of mortals gathered in the room. The mortals were rooted in place by fear which was only broken when the Banshee summoned up a Cacophony of annoying sounds.
The mortals running was expected, what was not was the sound of snoring suddenly ceasing. Curious Monzel poked her head into the room where she had found the napping Sandman and was surprised to see him sitting up and yawning. As he caught sight of her he gave a clumsy salute. “Hmm, Must have dozed off for a…Century or so. Well, I guess its time for work.”
The newly woken Daydreamer yawned and stretched as Monzel told him how he could help the mission. The Sandman’s head turned sharply toward the ceiling as thunder crashed and raindrops began to pelt the ground. A distant look came over his eyes as he spoke.
“Oh my, I’ve not heard a storm like that since…ooh…Since I last worked with Weatherwitch.”
Some hurried questioning revealed that the Sandman and Banshee had been with the Committee a few centuries back, until their Ghost Master was captured and lost during a mission. A number of his haunters had decided to go rogue rather then wait for the Committee to find them a new Master.
Fleeing the strange happenings in the hospital Kevin found himself back in the ward where surprisingly Jimmy was still hanging out by his bed, oblivious to the things happening around him.
Kevin was nearly yanked off his feet as the stuffed animal clutched in his hand pulled away from him. Dropping the toy to the floor he watched as it moved across the floor to bump against Jimmy’s foot.
As Jimmy stooped to retrieve his rabbit Kevin was overwhelmed by the desire to run away as a man-sized rabbit materialized from thin air.
“Nothing chokes me up more like seeing a boy and his bunny reunited. Thanks boss!” Harriet said as the chains holding her to Jimmy broke and faded.
Monzel noted that the addition of the Sandman and Trickster to the team was greatly improving the speed of the haunting. Mortals were fleeing left and right as the ghosts roamed the building. She hadn’t even noticed when the Ghostbreakers fled.
With the only threat to her team removed Monzel concentrated her attention on setting up the haunters for the final phase of the mission: Freeing Brigit.
After repositioning her team around the basement Monzel gave Boo the order to send Greenwood on another Fool’s Errand.
With all the nurses gone Dr. Greenwood had little choice but to head for the basement to see Dr. Whinnery. As soon as he reached the bottom of the basement stairs Greenwood slowed, seemingly rethinking his visit.
Weatherwitch didn’t give him a chance to leave though. Her Siren Song caught the mortal and lured him closer to the trapped Banshee.
Dr. Whinnery was standing to greet Dr. Greenwood when a terrifying figure appeared from thin air, dress flapping in the nonexistent breeze. Greenwood’s eyes widened in horror as Brigit turned her attention to her former fiancée.
“Faithless bespoiler of the purity of love! Brigit curses you with the undying stench of infidelity! Never again will you find solace in a woman’s arms!”
Brigit’s laughter echoed in Greenwood’s ears as he fled with Dr. Whinnery hot on his heels.
As they crossed the boundary of the haunting the familiar cloud of gold plasm appeared before Monzel and as it was absorbed into her book the portal appeared before her…
“WHAT!” Monzel shouted across the table at Rakarth. “They can’t seriously be considering this. It’s completely insane!”
“I’m afraid the Committee is in complete agreement. There is nothing we can do but follow orders and hope things work out.” Rakarth replied.
“You saw what that thing did. I can’t see the future Rakarth, but I know that this is not going to work out well. But I won’t argue with the Committee…”
Glancing down at the map Monzel’s gaze fixed on the cabin that had risen in the woods outside Gravenville once more. Realizing she couldn’t put off the unpleasant task any longer she tapped the cabin and sat back as Balam began speaking.
“The Darkling requires more lost souls in order to be freed. On a commission from the University 3 filmmakers have entered the forest, in search of a legend, driven by greed. Lead them to the cabin and get them to perform the summoning ritual again – The Darkling will soon be ours to command…”
“The woods…” Monzel said as she contemplated her team. “Weatherwitch, Blue Murder, Terroreyes, Banzai, Harriet, Firetail and Raindancer.” Monzel decided as she brought up the portal…
The portal put Monzel’s team out in the sky, giving a bird’s eye view of the forest, the cabin just visible through the trees.
Moving to scout the area the Ghost Master could already see a few problems. The first was a fast-moving stream running down the Western side of the haunting area. Moving further she realized that the cabin was nearly inaccessible from this side because of a several yard wide chasm that no mortal could jump over.
Turning away from the chasm Monzel moved off toward the East where she could hear the filmmakers calling to each other.
Noticing a few rusted traps scattered through the trees Monzel made a note of the potential fetters as she emerged into a clearing that, judging from the large blackened area had been used as a campsite in the past.
Seeing nothing of real interest she began to head off in the direction of the river. She stopped short when a strange noise rose from the fire pit. Moving closer she witnessed the mound of ash begin to shake as something emerged from within it.
Monzel was shocked as she recognized the reptilian form of a Fire Elemental. The shocking part was that this Elemental was completely grey, none of the familiar flame running over the creature’s body.
The Elemental raised her head to look at Monzel as the noise came again and she realized the haunter was trying to talk.
“Well met, stranger, if thou can hear me…I am known as Sparkle, a spirit of flame. This campfire was to be a brief dalliance, but as soft confection roasted above me I fell into a restful sleep. When I awoke – the fire had burned down to naught! I implore thee, reignite it that I may leave. Your kindness would be repaid.”
Knowing there was no way she could leave Sparkle to the cold Monzel called Firetail. As the spirit appeared before her his eyes fell on the shivering Sparkle and he immediately moved to her side. “Stay with her Firetail, I’ll be back once I figure out a way to free her.” Floating over to the island sitting in the middle of the water Monzel set down on a slab of stone that seemed to dominate the fog shrouded area.
Knowing such a place would be great for a ghost she was unsurprised when a floating skull appeared out of the mist, chains running from the base of the skull to vanish into the rock.
“Three centuries hence.” The Wisp said as he floated in front of the Ghost Master. “This foolish Wisp cruelly wronged a powerful witch - my fate was sealed. I was cursed to the worst fate a Wisp can befall - to never be seen by mortal eyes. Now imprisoned within a ring of trees, I can only be freed once the curse has been denied”
Promising her help Monzel reluctantly moved off to visit the cabin and see how tough her goal would be to achieve.
The chasm was nothing to her ghostly powers and she landed near the cellar doors. She paused to rethink her decision to follow orders when she spotted one of the mortals from her first visit, half hidden in the grass beside the cellar stairs.
Shaking her head she descended to the basement. She could see the Darkling’s half corporeal form in the corner chained to the summoning book. She took a step back as the Shadow’s eyes fell on her and she heard the rumble of its voice as it spoke.
“Bring me more souls! More delicate morsels to sate the cyclopean appetite of the Darkling! Such tiny minds must be easy to herd…Upon reaching this place they shall leave never more.”
Monzel quickly moved to leave as the Shadow’s voice followed her up the stairs. “Bring them to me, let darkness consume their pitiful existence. Dark destiny will not be denied this day!”
Moving back to her team, Monzel’s mind was already planning out the intricate plan that would be needed to save Sparkle and the Blair Wisp and lead the mortals to the cabin…
“Anything?” Mike Sanchez called to his fellow filmmakers as they regrouped at the camp site. “We can see the cabin but there’s a stream in the way. Any obstacles that lay beyond that are still a mystery.” Heather Myrick answered as she helped her brother Josh readjust the camera.
“It looks like the weather is getting bad too.” Josh spoke up as he watched the treetops wave in the growing wind.
“We’ll be fine; we wouldn’t be here if we couldn’t handle a little storm.” Mike replied. He opened his mouth to continue but his words were lost as a purple glow filled his eyes. “You guys hear that?” Mike said as he began moving off through the trees toward the river with Heather and Josh running to catch up.
Mike stood on the riverbank for a moment, listening to the song filling the air before he splashed into the water. He took only a few steps from shore before the cold water overwhelmed Weatherwitch’s Siren Song and he stopped, glancing at the island which was quickly losing its foggy cover to the powerful winds.
As his friends arrived on the bank, calling him to come back he saw something glowing on the island and continued the task of wading through the water as the glow in his eyes turned red.
“I don’t see him, do you?” Heather fretted. Mike had vanished into the trees and they had no idea what might be happening to him.
She sighed in relief as Mike came back into view only to worry again when she realized he was running and glancing behind him fearfully.
She and Josh met Mike when he splashed back across the river. “What happened over there?” Josh asked worriedly. “There was some sort of…thing over there.” Mike replied. “A glowing head floating in midair, it seemed rather glad to see me.”
“I guess we’re on the right track then.” Josh said as he turned to glance through the trees…
“Oh! Ungh! Ah! Oh, to be seen, I had forgotten the pleasure. So…tingly! And now my curse is lifted, I am indebted to you.”
Monzel smiled as she watched the Blair Wisp shuddering with the pleasure of being seen for the first time in 3 centuries.
Knowing she didn’t have time to waste she left Blair to recover and returned to the mainland…
Firetail glanced up at Monzel as she reappeared beside the fire pit. She could tell that Sparkle’s condition was getting worse and it was clear she wouldn’t last much longer without heat.
Signaling Firetail to her side Monzel led him to where Harriet stood waiting and explained her plan. ****
After making sure everyone was ready Monzel motioned to Harriet. The Trickster began pooling her power into the form of a wrapped box, an Ethereal Gift.
Taking advantage of the Gift’s unique properties as a universal fetter for a single Haunter, Firetail bound himself to it and as the Plasm flow was redirected to him the Elemental glanced at Monzel.
Seeing his Ghost Master give the signal Firetail dug his claws into the gift and unleashed every ounce of power he had in a massive Inferno.
Flames raced across the clearing and soon Monzel’s sight was obscured by the wall of flames roaring before her. It was only a matter of time before Firetail’s strength was exhausted though and the flames began to quickly die down as the Elemental collapsed atop the Gift.
As the last of the flames vanished Monzel could see the campfire burning merrily with Sparkle sitting in the center. At Monzel’s approach the salamander moved out of the flames to meet her.
She looked greatly improved with bright orange flames running over her body and actual sparks glowing in her eyes.
“Warmth! Heat! Flame!” Sparkle exclaimed as she gazed up at Monzel. “Oh, I was so cold and sad. Thank you for your aid, I’ll help however I can.”
Sending her along to help Firetail Monzel turned to gaze through the trees. She could just see the cabin and realized with regret that the only thing left was to blaze the trail for the unfortunate filmmakers.
Calling her team together Monzel leapt into the air to get an aerial view of the field and plan the trailblazing…
“Terroreyes, Blue Murder. I want you to bind to those old bear traps we saw and cool things down. We need to freeze the stream over so the mortals can cross.” Monzel was explaining to her team which was gathered around her. “Weatherwitch, you’ll be on rain and wind. I want a snowstorm to drive the mortals along the path we make.”
Josh glanced up at the sky as tiny flakes of snow began to fall onto the camera. After covering the equipment he moved over to where Heather and Mike were sitting, looking over a map of the forest around Gravenville.
“Hey, guys. I don’t think the weather is going to hold. The temperatures dropping fast and we’re not equipped for a campout. I think we’re going to have to call this one a loss.” Josh said, sitting down on Heather’s other side.
“No.” Heather replied, shaking her head. “Mike says he could see the cabin from that island. We’re close. Keep the camera dry but get ready to head out. We’ll try the stream again and see if we can find a spot low enough to cross.”
“Ok.” Josh said with a sigh as he rose to his feet. “We’ll try it. I have a bad feeling though.”
Monzel watched from the air as the filmmakers resumed their trek through the woods. She had sent the Blair Wisp to act as a guide, using his Hypnotic Image to lure them along the trail. By now the snow was falling fast and sticking thick on the ground.
As the mortals reached the bank of the stream Monzel floated closer to inspect the ice. Evidently the combined cold of Terroreyes and Blue Murder was more then enough as she could see the stream was completely frozen. She remained until the mortals started across before flying off to prepare the next part of the trail.
Banzai was waiting when Monzel landed beside the chasm that divided the forest and the cabin. “They’re right behind us.” Monzel said, looking over the yawning expanse before them. “You think you can do it?” She asked.
“It’ll be easy. The wood is old and ready to fall.” The Earth Elemental replied in his slow, patient manner. “Quake away then.” Monzel said, stepping back to give the spirit space to work.
The filmmakers paused to glance around as the sound of cracking wood reached them. Ahead they could see a dead tree, branches heavy with snow snap, falling to wedge between the chasm walls.
“We made it!” Mike cheered as the trio quickly crossed the trunk. Josh switched the camera on to document whatever they found here as Heather moved forward, toward the back of the cabin. Josh followed his sister and friend around the corner, finding them standing still as statues. Following their gaze he saw what had stopped them: The form of a human male, curled up in the grass beside a collapsed door leading underground, and slightly dusted by snow.
Stooping beside the prone form Heather brushed the snow away to get a look at the face. Her eyes widened in recognition as her mind put a name to the face. “I know him.” She said, turning to look at Mike and Josh. “It’s one of Krauss’s students, Bruce Elm. He must have been brought out by the same rumors we were. But I don’t know what reduced him to this.” She continued, glancing sadly at the twitching form of Bruce.
Whatever she was about to say next was lost though as a strange glint filled her eyes and she moved down the stairs to the cellar…
**** Monzel stood nervously beside the terrifying form of the Darkling as he drew the mortals in with his powers.
As the filmmakers took their positions around the book and began chanting the words written within Monzel could see tendrils of green rising from the open pages and circling the Shadow. His form began to become clearer as the chains binding him were broken.
“Wait, what treachery is this? Nooo!” Monzel leapt back in horror as several glowing stakes erupted up through the ground around the Darkling. Rising on metal legs the stakes lit up, forming a glowing cage of white beams around the Shadow, who roared in rage as Dr. Krauss and his mysterious friend emerged from beneath the stairs.
Monzel’s head hurt as she heard Rakarth’s voice shouting at her. “Get out of there! We can’t do anything here.”
Heeding her mentor’s advice the Ghost Master fled to the surface where she found a portal glowing as it awaited her…
After checking that her team was safe Monzel headed for the spirit world to meet with the Committee. Entering the Committee Chambers she found the Committee arguing among themselves. “Quiet!” Balam’s voice carried from his seat at the head of the table. “Monzel, thank you for coming. You did excellent work and the intervention of Krauss was unexpected.”
“The Darkling is free but it seems Krauss was one step ahead of us. We’ll attempt a rescue once we discover where he has been taken.” Balam said.
“In the meantime Monzel, you’ll be continuing your work in Gravenville. We’ve been getting some troubling reports from Zulban about the Ghostbreakers so you’ll probably be facing them again. Rakarth will be sending some new haunters to aid your team in the next few days. Take the time to prepare your team.” The Committee Head said before glancing down at the papers before him.
“Monzel!” Monzel turned as Drycha spoke up. “Don’t forget your reward for a successful mission.” The spirit said as she gestured and a cloud of gold plasm appeared before Monzel and was quickly absorbed by her handbook…
Monzel was thumbing through a thick, leather-bound book she had brought back with her from the Committee’s library when Rakarth appeared with a trio of ghosts. Setting the book aside she rose to greet Rakarth.
“I think I’ve found you some very interesting recruits this time.” He said. “Allow me to introduce Carter, Lady Rose and The Painter.”
Monzel’s gaze swept over each ghost in turn. Carter was dressed in a very old fashioned nightgown and his face lined with age and lit by the candle he held in one hand. Glancing down at her handbook she was surprised to learn that Carter was Buck’s master.
Turning her eyes to the lanky man with the paint palette and obviously French style clothing she thought to herself that he didn’t look nearly as insane as his epitaph indicated. She knew better then to assume such things when it came to ghosts though and moved on down the line to the last of the new recruits.
The young Ghost Master was greatly impressed by Lady Rose. This had obviously been a woman of high society in life and she seemed to have kept the noble bearing in death. The fetch smiled at Monzel from under her parasol, revealing a set of fangs that left Monzel momentarily startled.
“They are quite impressive.” Monzel said to Rakarth after giving Boo orders to get the new recruits settled. “I’m guessing that you’ve also brought along our new orders?”
“Yes, but first there is one more recruit for you to meet.” Rakarth replied, letting her glance around for who she had missed before opening up a portal and allowing a small creature to fly through and land on the book Monzel had left on the table.
Taking a seat in her chair Monzel looked curiously at the owl perched in front of her. Bright yellow eyes that gleamed with intelligence gazed out at the world from the white feathered face. Brown joined the white along the body and wings.
“This is Cuare.” Rakarth said with a smile. “Mortals consider owls to be wise creatures and Cuare proves it. She has traveled extensively throughout both the mortal and spirit worlds and even to places rarely visited by anyone. Her knowledge of the Mortal Realm and its inhabitants will be invaluable in the near future.”
“Thanks.” Monzel said as she pulled Gravenville’s map out from under Cuare’s perch. The little owl quickly took to the air to land on her shoulder and gaze at the map. “You’ve done well.” She hooted as she took in the tiny flocks of bats that circled the location of each of Monzel’s successful missions. “Especially with the witches, Rakarth told me how you turned their own defenses against them.”
“But now we go on the offensive.” Rakarth said as he leaned over the table to view the map as a pair of structures rose up from the paper. Monzel recognized the police station but the windmill was a new one. “We’ll get to Spooky Hollow later. Right now the police station is the important place.” Rakarth continued.
Nodding to her mentor Monzel reached out to tap the station and sat back as Balam’s voice spoke.
“These Ghostbreakers have been causing trouble across the city and must be dealt with. They have taken up residence in the precinct station, and have prepared for a siege. Beware their defenses – many wards and alarms will conspire to restrict your access – and to alert the enemy to your presence. Once you penetrate the outer ward, you will only be able to lie unnoticed where the flow of plasm is muted.”
“Your goal is the Ectoplasmic Storage Device - their ghost prison. This machine is sizable and requires a cold environment for proper function. It is doubtless installed within a large cold room. Destroy it to free - and recruit - the ghosts within. Cunning and valor will bring victory over these upstart mortals – all must be driven out of the building, or out of their minds. We are counting upon your success.”
As the voice faded Monzel glanced at Rakarth. “They want me to lead a team against the Ghostbreakers. That’s insane, we’ll be lucky if we even get inside before we’re all banished or worse, captured. It can’t be done.”
“I think we actually have the advantage here.” Cuare piped up. “Their wards might keep ghosts from entering but they’re still powered by normal electricity. Even a Gremlin could knock one out for a short time if they had the right power. And once they’re down we can destroy the generators and keep them down.”
“I told you she was good.” Rakarth said with a laugh at Monzel’s expression.
“Alright, we’ll try it.” Monzel said as she moved off to talk to her haunters, Cuare still perched happily on her shoulder…